The program has been offered in our community for the past five years, variously in partnership with the Lowertown Community Resource Centre (LCRC), Patro d’Ottawa and the Centre de services Guigues.
This fall, Awesome Arts en folie is running a Nature Sound Recording Workshop in partnership with the LCRC and Fieldwork, an art collective in Maberly, Ontario. On Saturday, September 26, 16 youths headed out to Fieldwork in Maberly to record nature sounds with Chad Clifford. They then worked on site with music producer Sergio Guerra, to mix the nature sounds with different beats that the youths create with a drum machine. It was a really great creative outing in the country mixing urban and rural elements.
The purpose was to draw the community together through creative and artistic process with a final showcase at the end of the program.
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The Festival was the culmination of a three-month program, during which Awesome Arts en folie workshops were offered to different groups ranging in age from five to 95 years old. Led by professional artists, the participants created songs, wrote plays, created dance choreographies, wrote poems, filmed videos and produced beautiful visual art.
The workshop participants examined the importance and prevalence of linguistic and cultural duality in Canada and Lowertown. Anglophone children learned French songs; Francophone children worked with Anglophone children to create murals; Francophone seniors told stories that were then transformed into bilingual animation movies by Anglophone children; and, a group of Anglophone youth wrote a bilingual rap. Participant Akuol Luala’s experience led her to understanding that, “We can find mutual ground and we can inspire others with our stories.”
The spring 2015 program—which was funded in part by the Department of Canadian Heritage— succeeded in bringing together almost 200 participants and more than 350 Festival goers. This was also the first time that the program was offered equally in French and in English and brought together such a wide range of ages through intergenerational programming. Glenna, one of the senior participants, was thrilled with the Spoken Word program led by Jamaal Rogers. “Each week it was like being brought to another world. A wonderful new world, filled with young people, ideas and art.”
The final creations were shared at the Festival on March 27th, and five finished 4’x8’ murals have been permanently installed in the 40 Cobourg Avenue building: two in the LCRC offices, two in the City of Ottawa pool hallway and one in the Patro d’Ottawa hallway on the second floor.
“I tell all of my friends that I helped make those murals,” said one of the participants. The murals were created in collaboration with professional artists cj fleury and Nicole Bélanger. Additionally, one of the CinePoem videos created in partnership with Craig Conoley was featured on CBC’s All in a Day radio program.
The community arts program has also been very enriching for the professional artists. For Craig Conoley, film and video director who has been part of Awesome Arts en folie for the past three years, “The most notable aspect of the program is the positive impact it has had on specific youth who return over the years. It’s inspiring to see them take on leadership roles through the internship program.”
The Awesome Arts en folie program has become an important part of life in Lowertown. For five consecutive years this dynamic community arts program has brought together a talented and engaged group of creative residents, both young and old.
It has been very successful, “proving to be very popular with the residents of the Lowertown community,” according to Stephen Pearson, LCRC’s Child and Youth Services Program Coordinator. “The programs offered through MASC Awesome Arts have been interesting, of great value and benefit to participants.”
Awesome Arts and Seniors Program Director and Residency Coordinator
Directrice, Arts en folie et Programme pour les aînés et Coordonatrice des résidences